Type of Work Performed by Subsurface Utility Engineering Companies

Subsurface utility engineering companies provide valuable services to the construction industry. Using a variety of methods, SUE locates the position of existing subsurface pipes and utilities. These methods supply vital data that allow contractors to reduce costs and provide a safer work environment.

The kind of work performed by subsurface utility engineering companies includes data management, civil engineering, geophysics, and surveying. Common types of SUE methods include air/vacuum excavation equipment, pipe and cable locators, metal detectors, magnetic methods, acoustic emission, and ground penetrating radar.

Combined, SUE methods can help pipeline contractors precisely estimate project costs. The collected data also helps contractors prevent having to redesign projects or relocate utilities if existing pipelines are found once the project has started.

Prior to the development of subsurface utility engineering, engineers had very few methods for collecting data. Projects frequently had to be put on hold when existing utilities were located or damaged. Not being able to pinpoint the location of existing pipelines often led to workplace accidents; some of which were fatal.

When subsurface utility engineering was first introduced in the early 1990s it was mainly used by state Department of Transportation. Additional uses for SUE were revealed 1999 after the “Purdue University Study” was published.

The study reviewed state construction projects that utilized SUE methods. It revealed that DOT highway projects using SUE methods had substantial financial savings. Additionally, SUE helped to reduce overall costs of construction projects and lessened risks connected to these kinds of jobs.

Shortly after the Purdue Study results were published the American Society of Civil Engineers developed a standardized protocol. Since 2003, SUE methods have been an invaluable tool for utility companies, the U.S. military, and transportation industry.

In addition to lowering project costs, SUE has been instrumental in reducing the dangers associated with pipeline installation and relocation. Being able to locate subsurface utilities eliminates the potential for cutting lines and breaking pipes.

Pinpointing the location of subsurface utilities also eliminates the need of having to redesign plans when existing utilities are discovered at job sites. Furthermore, SUE helps identify the composition and condition of existing pipes which aids in better maintenance.

Lastly, SUE methods are vital for reducing the potential of property damage, workplace injuries, and release of environmental toxins that can occur when pipelines are damaged.

It’s important to retain the services of SUE companies that are skilled at locating and mapping, and utility pipeline installation. Contractors need to have adequate training and have the ability to utilize several SUE methods to complete the job on time.

SUE companies need to have access to multiple kinds of equipment including data recording, terrain conductivity meters, resonant sonics, advanced surveying, magnetometers, and air/vacuum excavation equipment.

Subsurface utility engineering companies have to abide by guidelines set forth by the American Society of Civil Engineers. ASCE requires SUE contractors to hold sufficient finances to pay for construction materials and payroll, along with having appropriate insurance coverage.

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